Six Ways to Better Sleep
Did you know that sleep may actually impact your academic performance? Students who report sleeping enough each night achieve better grades at university (Gomes et al., 2011).
We all know we need sleep. It is a powerful medicine which has been associated with; better emotional and cognitive functioning, reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, cancers, diabetes and more (Irish et al., 2015).
On that note, here are six ways to better sleep
Temperature (Harding et al., 2019) 🥵🥶 🛁 🚿 🤒
- To get into a sleep state our internal body temperature needs to be on the slightly cooler side.
- We can achieve this in a few ways: taking a hot bath or shower before bed encourages our internal body temperature to cool down, or cracking open your window slightly if your room is warm (to let the room temperature get to an optimal 19-21°c).
Tip: hot shower or bath before bed.
Break the cycle 🧠 🤯 🛏 📝
- The brain is very associative (Basri et al., 2020). If you often lay awake in bed struggling to sleep, your brain may have associated laying in bed with this mindset. If you find yourself lying awake at night, try breaking the cycle by getting out of bed to go to the toilet (even if you don’t need it!) and then get back in bed and try again.
- If it’s a racing mind keeping you awake, keep a journal/paper and pen next to your bed. Write down whatever it is that you’re thinking about – whether that’s a problem you’re trying to solve, or worrying about tomorrow’s to-do list – get it all out onto some paper.
Tip: Keep a journal next to your bed and write down the thoughts keeping you awake.
Routine ⏰ 🕰 ⏱
- We are creatures of habit. Going to bed at similar times and waking at similar times each morning can help you to consistently sleep well (Johnson, 1991).
- If you’ve got into the habit of going to sleep too late, try inching your bedtime back by no more than 30 minutes each night. If you’ve been drifting off at 1am most nights you’re not suddenly going to be an ‘in bed by 10pm’ person. Be realistic.
- Use the brain’s strong desire to create associations to your advantage: create a bedtime routine which signals to your body that it’s time to wind down! Such as making a warm (non-caffeinated!) drink, or a bath/shower.
Tip: Create a bedtime routine (maybe using some of these tips!)
Caffeine 😴 ☕️ 😑
- You knew this one was coming.
- But do you know why it is so important? Caffeine consumed at 4pm is still in our system and can disrupt sleep at 10pm, SIX HOURS later (Drake et al., 2013).
- Caffeine blocks the receptors that tell us we are tired, which is why we experience a crash as the caffeine is wearing off. It’s not that we have suddenly become tired, it’s that now we are actually aware of it (like when the effects of a painkiller wears off).
- Try a decaf option or non-caffeinated herbal teas (they are delicious).
- Tip: Cut the caffeine after midday
Reducing blue light (West et al., 2011) 📱🧑💻🤓
- Blue light blocks the production of melatonin, a hormone which tells our bodies to start winding down for sleep. There are a few ways you can reduce blue light; ditch the screen time a few hours before you want to go to sleep (try swapping your phone or laptop for a book instead!), if you really can’t ditch the screen time, go into your laptop and phone settings and schedule night mode to come on from sunset to sunrise (it will change the colour of your screen to a yellow-tint instead of blue), alternatively you can get your hands on some blue light blocking glasses.
Exposure to morning light ☀️☀️☀️
- First thing when you wake up, expose yourself to some light. This has been used to help people regulate their sleep schedules and get to bed at a more reasonable hour (Corbett et al., 2012). So, don’t be a vampire, open your curtains or blinds in the morning and try to get outside at some point during daylight.
Tip: Expose yourself to daylight in the morning and cut the blue light a few hours before bed.
Exercise (Chennaoui et al., 2014) 🏃♂️🏃♀️⚽️🏀🏈🎾🏋️🚴♂️
- You can kill two birds in one stone if you take a walk at some point in the day (getting some exercise and some natural sunlight.
- We all know regular exercise is good for us, but did you know it can improve the quality of your sleep at night?
- It also works both ways: better sleep can improve your athletic performance and muscle growth (if you’re into that).
Tip: Move your body throughout the day.
WANT TO LEARN MORE ABOUT SLEEP? 😴 Listen to this amazing podcast for more amazing facts and tips about sleep:
https://drchatterjee.com/why-sleep-is-the-most-important-pillar-of-health-with-professor-matthew-walker/ (Available on Youtube, Apple Podcast and Spotify) 🎧 👂
By Olivia Brown
Basri, H., Amin, S., Umiyati, M., Mukhlis, H., & Irviani, R. (2020). Learning theory of conditioning. Journal of Critical Review, 7(8). https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Hamid_Mukhlis/publication/343395979_Learning_Theory_of_Conditioning/links/5f28012992851cd302d5a612/Learning-Theory-of-Conditioning.pdf
Chennaoui, M., Arnal, P. J., Sauvet, F., & Leger, D. (2015). Sleep and exercise: A reciprocal issue? Sleep Medicine Reviews, 20, 59-72. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.smrv.2014.06.008
Corbett, R. W., Middleton, B., & Arendt, J. (2012). An hour of bright white light in the early morning improves performance and advances sleep and circadian phase during the Antarctic winter. Neuroscience Letters, 525(2), 146-151. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neulet.2012.06.046
Drake, C., Roehrs, T., Shambroom, J., & Roth, T. (2013). Caffeine Effects on Sleep Taken 0, 3, or 6 Hours before Going to Bed. Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, 9(11), 1195-1200. https://doi.org/10.5664/jcsm.3170
Gomes, A. A., Tavares, J., & De Azevedo, M. H. P. (2011). Sleep and Academic Performance in Undergraduates: A Multi-measure, Multi-predictor Approach. Chronobiology International, 28(9), 786-801. https://doi.org/10.3109/07420528.2011.606518
Harding, E. C., Franks, N. P., & Wisden, W. (2019). The temperature dependence of sleep. Front. Neuroscience. https://doi.org/10.3389/fnins.2019.00336
Irish, L. A., Kline, C. E., Gunn, H. E., Buysse, D. J., & Hall, M. H. (2015). The role of sleep hygiene in promoting public health: A review of empirical evidence. Sleep Medicine Reviews, 22, 23-26. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.smrv.2014.10.001
Johnson, J. E. (1991). A Comparative Study of the Bedtime Routines and Sleep of Older Adults. Journal of Community Health Nursing, 8(3), 129-136. https://www.jstor.org/stable/3427462
West, K. E., Jablonski, M. R., Warfield, B., Cecil, K. S., James, M., Ayers, M. A., Maida, J., & Bowen, C. (2011). Blue light from light-emitting diodes elicits a dose-dependent suppression of melatonin in humans. Journal of Applied Physiology, 110(3), 619-626. https://doi.org/10.1152/japplphysiol.01413.2009